Jess Adams, who is licensed and holds a Masters Degree in community counseling, is Catholic Charities’ new Clinical Liaison for priests in our diocese. She assists them by providing referrals for parishioners and students in need of professional counseling.
Jess Adams is the newest addition to our Catholic Charities staff. She serves in a brand new role deemed vital by many priests: a clinical liaison for priests throughout the diocese.
When we discovered from surveys, interviews, and research that mental-health services were the greatest need, we created the Clinical Liaison position. Jess’s position serves as the first step in responding to the many counseling needs identified in our parishes and Catholic schools.
Every week, parish priests and school staff encounter many families, some of whom desperately need more help than they can give them. As a result, they see a great demand for professional counselors. Many have complex, ongoing problems, such as marital and parenting issues.
“The most important thing is that the priest can trust the counselor,” says Jess Adams. “So my job is to connect people with those counselors who will always approach a case from a Catholic point of view.”
To understand how this works, consider the fictional Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They go to their pastor, seeking help with their marriage. He observes that the two are struggling with communication and would like to refer them to a qualified professional. Most importantly, he wants to make certain this counselor understands and honors the Catholic point of view of marriage as a sacrament.
After receiving the referral from the priest (or his designee), Jess will contact the party to discuss their needs. She may ask if they have a preference for a male or female counselor, or perhaps one who speaks Spanish. With this information, she will seek out the right fit for their circumstances.
“People want someone they can open up to with the most personal details of their lives,” says Jess. “It’s my job to match them with a professional who is both competent and trustworthy.”
The Clinical Liaison position provides our priests with ongoing support when they need assistance accessing community mental-health resources for their parish or school families. We see this as a vital service so we as a Church can better respond to the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of Catholics in our diocese.
Long term, we hope to develop a broader array of counseling. For now, we are grateful to be able to provide our parish priests with this much-needed clinical liaison.